Mining firm Teck Resources has decided to withdraw its application for the Frontier mine project, Global News can confirm.
The proposed $20.6 billion oil sands mining project had been subject to federal government approval. A government decision was expected before the end of February. Teck says it will write down the $1.13 billion carrying value of the project.
The company says it is “disappointed” to have made this “difficult decision.”
In a letter addressed to the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson, Teck CEO and president Don Lindsay said the decision was made in light of the broader conversation around climate change in Canada.
The company is “not merely shying away from controversy,” Lindsay says in the letter.
“The nature of our business dictates that a vocal minority will almost inevitably oppose specific developments,” he writes. “We are prepared to face that sort of opposition.
“Frontier, however, has surfaced a broader debate over climate change and Canada’s role in addressing it. It is our hope that withdrawing from the process will allow Canadians to shift to a larger and more positive discussion about the path forward.
“Ultimately, that should take place without a looming regulatory deadline.”
The news that Teck has pulled its bid for the proposed mine comes the same day a deal had been reached between the government of Alberta and a First Nation that had raised environmental concerns about the oil sands mining project.
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation had announced the agreement in a news release earlier on Sunday, expressing “support for approval of the project” and urging the federal government to approve it without any more delay.
In a statement posted to Twitter and emailed out, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called Teck’s decision to withdraw from the project a “grave disappointment to Albertans.” He claimed the timing was “not a coincidence.”
“Teck’s decision is disappointing, but in light of the events of the last few weeks it is not surprising,” Kenney said.
“It is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority.”
Kenney’s office sent out two statements a short time apart on Sunday night.
The first statement claimed that Teck alluded to “’public safety’ concerns” in making the decision to withdraw the application. But shortly after that statement was sent out Sunday night, it disappeared from the government website and a second corrected statement had no mention of that line and acknowledged an “error” in the earlier release.
Kenney also spoke via phone on Sunday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about Teck’s decision.
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